Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Capitol Hill in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Destroying the Library

 

—Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail —

 
Destroying the Library Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
1. Destroying the Library Marker
Inscription. The original Library of Congress occupied a room in the U.S. Capitol. When British troops burned the Capitol in 1814, the collection was destroyed. After the war Thomas Jefferson helped re-establish the library by selling to Congress at a discount some 5,500 of his own books. President James Madison appointed local editor and writer George Watterston as his first full-time Librarian of Congress.

Returned Souvenir

In 1940 a collector sent the Library of Congress a book titled, RECTs and EXPENDs [receipts and expenditures] U.S. FOR 1810. It survived the British burning of the library in 1814 because British Rear Admiral Cockburn took it for a souvenir. He inscribed it, “Taken in President's room in the Capitol of Washington 24th August 1814.”

In the summer of 1814 the United States had been at war with Great Britain for two years. Battlefronts had erupted from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. On August 24, following their victory over the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, British troops marched on Washington with devastating results.

The Star-Spangled Banner Historic Trail reveals sites of the War of 1812 in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland. Visit ChesapeakeExplorerApp.com or download the Chesapeake Explorer App.
 
Erected by
Destroying the Library marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
2. Destroying the Library marker
The Library's John Adams building is behind the marker; The Thomas Jefferson building is on the left.
Cultural Tourism D.C.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail marker series.
 
Location. 38° 53.243′ N, 77° 0.135′ W. Marker is in Capitol Hill, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street when traveling west on Pennsylvania Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20003, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Capitol in Flames (here, next to this marker); Ebenezer United Methodist Church (approx. ¼ mile away); Frederick Douglass (approx. ¼ mile away); The Old Brick Capitol (approx. 0.3 miles away); United States Capitol Grounds (approx. 0.3 miles away); United States Capitol (approx. 0.3 miles away); Eastern Market (approx. 0.3 miles away); Alva Belmont House (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Capitol Hill.
 
Also see . . .  A Spiteful Souvenir. Library of Congress Video. (Submitted on February 16, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. War of 1812
 
Destroying the Library image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
3. Destroying the Library
A historical illustrator imagines the burning of the Library of Congress.
Close-up of image on marker
Souvenir image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, February 14, 2015
4. Souvenir
British Rear Admiral George Cockburn and the inscription he made in what remains the only book known to have survived the 1814 burning of the Library of Congress.

In Cockburn's handwriting: “Taken in President's room in the Capitol, at the destruction of that building by the British, on the capture of Washington, 24th August, 1814. [later] by Admiral Cockburn & by him presented to his eldest brother Sir James Cockburn of Langton Bart. Governor of Bermuda.”

In Rosenbach's handwriting: “And now, this sixth day of January 1940, after 126 years, restored to the Library of Congress, by A.S.W. Rosenbach.”
Close-up of photo on marker
Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn image. Click for full size.
Wikipedia
5. Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn
In this painting by John James Halls Admiral Cockburn stands in front of Washington in flames.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 15, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 403 times since then and 60 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week April 24, 2016. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 15, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement